Hannemann Brings it Home
'This is unbelievable,' said Hannemann, who carded a final-round 70 for a nine-under 54-hole total of 207 to beat Michelle Murphy of Tacoma, Wash., by one stroke. 'I had so many chances all day and I told myself to just get this over with.'
And that's where the punctuation mark comes in. Murphy, winner of last year's York event, was tied with Hannemann at eight-under par going into the final hole at Regents' Glen Country Club. The former LPGA Tour player flared her tee shot right on 18 and faced a 170-yard 5-iron approach shot. Her approach landed short of the green, forcing her to try to run an 8-iron pitch to the uphill hole. The shot had a chance, but rolled 15 feet beyond the cup. Murphy's par-saving putt died in the hole.
'I knew I had to chip in to stay alive,' said Murphy, who carded a one-under score of 71 to finish second at 208.
But Hannemann was perfect off the tee, right down the middle. Then she staked her 8-iron approach from 138 yards to within six inches, setting up the winning birdie putt. That putt ended any chance for a playoff. It beat the approaching sunset. It also put a lid on the 2003 season in which the former Duke University All-American won twice and posted eight top-10 finishes in 14 events.
'She hit that 8-iron and was telling the ball to get down,' said Hannemann's caddie Chris McCalmont. 'I said, 'Get down where? In the hole?' It almost did. Candy just stepped up today.'
Players returned to the course early this morning to complete Saturday's second round, which endured vast amounts of rain, two weather suspensions and storm delays totaling five hours. Second-round play resumed at 7:45 a.m. after a herculean cleanup effort by the club's grounds crew that began at 3:30 a.m. Following the 36-hole cut, the third round began at 12:20 p.m.
Going into the final round, Hannemann and Murphy were one shot behind Kathy Choi-Rogers of Huntington Beach, Calif. But the former UCLA player began losing ground on the back nine, while Murphy and Hannemann finally deadlocked for a tie at the tricky par-4 13th hole where Murphy bogeyed. By the time they reached the 18th tee, tournament officials were whispering plans for a playoff.
'Candy has a great swing and there were no real missed shots,' said Murphy of this year's champion. 'She manages her game extremely well.'
For the player who beat now-LPGA Tour superstar rookie Lorena Ochoa in a playoff to win the individual title at the 2001 NCAA Women's Golf Championship and for the member of two national championship NCAA teams at Duke, Hannemann has spent most of this season measuring her present against her past. Her top-10 finishes have been sprinkled throughout the season. Her most disappointing finish was a second at the Albuquerque, N.M., tournament in early May, where she lost a two-hole playoff to first-time winner Catherine Cartwright of Bonita Springs, Fla.
But Hannemann always knew she had the goods. And as her chance to get what she came for this season drew closer, the Brazilian responded in typical fashion as she always has when pressed against a wall.
'I knew I had to win one of the last three tournaments,' said Hannemann, a non-exempt member of the LPGA Tour prior to earning one of the five exempt cards.
So she just won two of the last three Futures Tour tournaments and earned the third exempt LPGA Tour card that was handed out today to the top five money winners.
Regents Glen is a new venue for the Tour at this event, in its 17th season. And Lee Ann Walker-Cooper of Cary, N.C., who won the second tournament of the season back in late March, made a run for this title in the final round with a 68. But she got no closer than a tie for third with Hannemann's former Duke teammate, Virada 'Oui' Nirapathpongporn. The amateur from Bangkok, Thailand, who won the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship a week ago outside Philadelphia, also carded a final-round 68 to tie Walker-Cooper at six-under 210.
And while Hannemann was happy for her friend's top-three finish, the only shortcoming for her stellar day was losing a bet to the rising Duke senior.
'We bet dinner on the lowest score from holes 13 to 18 and I lost to Oui,' said Hannemann, with a smile on her face and a $10,500 winner's check in her pocket.
For the record, Nirapathpongporn scored birdies on holes 13, 15 and 18 to cruise in with a back-nine score of 33 to beat Hannemann's lone birdie on 18 and back-nine score of 35. But dinner was a small price to pay for LPGA-bound Hannemann, who won her first tournament two weeks ago in Maryland, and whose future is looking brighter all the time.
Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta
Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.
The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.
It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.
"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."
Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.
Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.
"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."
Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder
After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.
La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.
"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."
Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.
The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.
"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."
Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead
New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.
The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.
"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."
Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.
It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.
Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.
Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore
SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.
Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.
He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.
Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.
Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.
The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.
''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''
Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.
He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.
Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.
Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.
''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''